A recipe for disaster?

Christina Stavale

Diet pills may offer a quick fix, but could come with consequences

Though some effects may be short-term, some diet pills contain dangerous ingredients. For example, Ephedra is a very powerful stimulant that speeds up the heart rate and can cause permanent heart condition, including heart attacks and heart failure. JESSI

Credit: John Proppe

Diet pills that claim to take the weight off without any outside effort may not be the best answer for those looking to shed a few pounds in an attempt to obtain the perfect body.

According to Rose Ann Chiurazzi, a nutritionist at the Student Recreation and Wellness Center, most college-aged students who use diet pills use them as a quick way to lose weight or to supplement weight loss.

But can diet pills achieve this goal?

“Of course there will always be some people that they work for,” Chiurazzi said. “But the weight loss is almost always short term, and as soon as a person discontinues the usage they tend to gain the weight back.”

Diet pills work by using stimulants to curb the user’s appetite, she said. One of the most commonly used stimulants is caffeine.

“A lot of times the caffeine makes people constantly nervous,” Chiurazzi said.

However, nervousness is not the only risk associated with diet pills. Many diet pills are also associated with symptoms such as fever, headache, dry mouth, dizziness, excessive sweating, blurred vision and hair loss.

“I knew a girl in my competing show choir who used Stackers, (a brand of diet pills) to help her loose weight,” said Caitlin Bennett, freshman theater major. “She said that they made her feel more energetic at all hours. I never noticed a weight change in her.”

Though some effects may be short-term, some diet pills contain more dangerous ingredients. For example, Ephedra is a very powerful stimulant that speeds up the heart rate and can cause permanent heart damage, heart attacks and heart failure.

“It was taken off the market in the United States a few years ago, but it is still out there,” Chiurazzi said.

Although Ephedra is illegal, it is still found in diet pills that have not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration and are readily available for customers to buy.

Both Chiurazzi and Scott Dotterer, coordinator of Student Health Promotions, agree that the best way to loose and manage weight is to follow a nutritious diet and to exercise in moderation.

“Diet pills are definitely not the healthy way to go,” Dotterer said. “Dieting should be looked at more as weight management rather than rapid weight loss.”

Contact features correspondent Christina Stavale at [email protected].

WHAT’S REALLY IN A DIET PILL?

Here are some of the different

supplements found in diet pills:

• Chitosan – claims to block absorption of fat; relatively safe but ineffective; can cause bloating or constipation

• Chromium – claims to reduce body fat and build muscle; no common side effects but ineffective in causing weight loss

• Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) – claims to reduce body fat, build muscle and decrease appetite; can cause diarrhea and indigestion; sometimes can reduce body fat and build muscle

• Ephedra- claims to reduce appetite; can cause heart attacks, high blood pressure, strokes, sleeplessness and death; banned from market

• Country mallow (heartleaf) – claims to decrease appetite and increase the number of calories burned; contains Ephedra and should be avoided

• Bitter orange – claims to reduce appetite; often used as a less dangerous alternative to Ephedra but side effects are similar

• Green tea extract – claims to increase metabolism and reduce appetite; can cause vomiting,

bloating, indigestion and diarrhea; may contain large amounts of caffeine

• Guar gum – claims to block absorption of fat and increase a feeling of fullness; relatively safe but ineffective; may cause diarrhea and flatulence

— Source: http://mayoclinic.com/health/weight-loss/HQ01160